This has been a great year of progress in Minnesota’s efforts to become a national leader in preserving and restoring our environment. From the landmark legislation in addressing climate change and developing sustainable energy resources to the growth of our farmers markets and the success of the light rail, Minnesota is becoming a model for other states and on the national stage.
One of the most exciting new developments has been the emergence of Minnesota GreenStar-Certified Green Homes and Remodeling guidelines. Over two years in the making, this statewide green remodeling program sets standards for (and certifies) residential remodeling and new construction. Having a certified standard by which to measure our homes is the first step towards building a common understanding about what constitutes a green home and what practices have real impact.
Some may be familiar with other programs for green building certification. One of the most well known of these is the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design or LEED. Two years ago, LEED for Homes was introduced in pilot form as a standard for new home construction. LEED, however, does not address remodeling. Minnesota GreenStar will offer green remodeling certification in Minnesota beginning Fall of 2008.
The Minnesota GreenStar remodeling program is a wonderful example of industry and the environmental sector coming together. In 2006, a group of volunteers representing the remodeling and homebuilding industry convened to outline a set of standards for green remodeling specific to our region and climate. A grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, helped establish and fund a development partnership between the ad hoc Green Remodeling Group, the nonprofit Green Institute, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry-Minnesota Chapter, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, and the University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research. The Green Remodeling Group served as the champion for the development of the standard.
Why is it important to remodel or build a Minnesota GreenStar certified home?
One big reason: our nation’s energy consumption at home comprises of roughly 20-25%. Since nearly all of this energy is derived from fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming, our homes are responsible for 20% of our nation’s global warming carbon emissions. Other reasons for building green include creating healthy indoor spaces, conserving water, and protecting our land and other natural resources.
The Minnesota GreenStar remodeling program launched its pilot June of 2007 with over 20 building projects seeking the first Minnesota GreenStar certification. The pilot version of the checklist and manual is available at mngreenstar.org so that it can be used in any planning and design of remodeling projects in Minnesota beginning Fall of 2008. With over 700 options, users are able to select the measures that best fit the characteristics of the existing home and the scope of the remodel.
The Minnesota GreenStar program centers around five core strategies shared by leading green building programs: energy efficiency, resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, water conservation, and site and community impacts. However, one feature that sets Minnesota GreenStar apart from other standards is that the minimum requirements in the categories shift with each project type and the level of achievement desired. This was considered by the program’s development team to be essential to achieving a well-rounded green home.
Michael Anschel is the Owner and Principal of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, LLC, and Verified Green, Inc. He heads the Green Remodeling Group.
Corey Brinkema is the Executive Director of the Green Institute.
Builder’s Guide to Cold Climates: Details for Design and Construction, by Joseph Lstiburek, Taunton publisher, 2000.
Buliding Green in a Black and White World, by David Johnston, BuilderBooks.com, 1999.